One thing in all of this that was really surprising was people’s reactions to the news that Michael and I were getting divorced. I don’t think either of us ever saw it coming…we figured they would all just kind of breathe a sigh of relief along with us, be sad for a little while, and then move on. We were really wrong. People were shocked. Some people threw what amounted to adult temper tantrums. People whispered behind our backs (I’m sure some of them are still whispering). A few even got personally offended and tried to save our marriage for us, as if we hadn’t been desperately trying to do just that for years. Not many people had what I would consider a “normal” reaction…offering support and trusting us to know what the right decision was for our family.
I posted this on Facebook a few months ago, but I think it’s worth repeating:
Here’s a thing that happens when you have trauma and upheaval in your family: a lot of people scatter. And I guess I get it…it’s easier to be around happy people and a lot harder to be around people who need help. But when you’re the person (or the couple, or the family) who needs help…when you’re reaching out to your friends and family and telling them that things aren’t good, that you need help or to talk or to cry or whatever, and they start to distance themselves from you it multiplies all the hurt and uncertainty and loneliness.
I spent years reaching out, and finally gave up. So we put on happy faces and smiled when we were with our friends, because when we didn’t smile – when we acknowledged the hard stuff or tried to ask for help – we were met with uncomfortable silence or empty reassurances that “everything will be fine.” We both knew that things weren’t going to be fine, but it’s a scary road to navigate, made even scarier when your friends and family are suddenly absent.
We all get to make our own choices about the way we engage with people, and people are always going to make choices that you disagree with or wouldn’t make for yourself or your family, but please don’t desert them; they are still the same people who you have shared your life with, laughed with, and maybe even cried with. And they need you. They don’t need you to necessarily agree with their choices, but they do need to be heard, and they could probably use some reassurance or maybe even a hug. And don’t we all deserve at least that much?
I’m so grateful for the people who listened to me and heard me when things were hard, and for the people who have loved me and been there and are getting to see the goodness. And for the people who have loved my kids, included them, checked on them, and celebrated them…thank you seems too small.
We belong to each other.
Life is hard under the most ideal circumstances. Let’s be gentle with each other and trust each other. I can tell you from experience that some of the seemingly happiest marriages are just two people who are scared and stuck and trying to do the best they can. If there is a choice they can make to be less scared and free and happy, shouldn’t they get to make that choice without judgement…even if it’s a choice you wouldn’t make for your family? After all, we’re all just doing the best we can…for ourselves, for our kids, and for the people who love us.
There will always be people who agree with your choices and people who disagree. Maybe it’s because I’m 38, maybe it’s because I’m so happy that I just don’t care anymore, but I cannot he bothered with trying to help other people be okay with choices I have made or will make. I’m just gonna be over here dancing with my girls and loving every single second of this life that is so good it takes my breath away every single day.